As Creative Director and Principal of the Houston-based Creative Tonic Design, Courtnay Tartt Elias is known for filling interiors with color, distinctive art, and a curated look that clients crave. Case in point, her very own home she shares with her husband and three boys in the city’s charming Tanglewood neighborhood. The contemporary, white stucco is a timeless design that Tartt Elias embellished with a dining courtyard tucked behind a Hollywood Regency-inspired curved wall pierced with lattice. Then it was on to the master bedroom, which stopped us in our tracks. We immediately reached out to the designer to find out more about the room's evolution.
"I wanted my bedroom to feel like an updated Versailles Marie Antoinette boudoir”, she says. “Feminine and fun but comfortable for my husband too. (He’s always game for all of my crazy design ideas).” Tartt Elias envisioned the space as an interior garden. “How fun to sleep outside under a flower bower!” she says. The design started with a swatch of Manuel Canovas fabric the designer lusted after and a new upholstered headboard.
It took some time to consider how two strong prints would play happily in the space but with Tartt Elias’s creative verve, the room came together effortlessly, just as nature intended.
Step inside this gorgeous room as the designer shares how it all came together.
If this bedroom had a name, what would it be?
"The Sleeping Flower Bower!”
You are not afraid of pattern. There are such strong statements here but they work beautifully. Tell us about your approach?
"I mentioned the Manuel Canovas fabric I fell in love with. But I also adored this Cole & Son Magnolia wallpaper that I had used in a client’s dining room. At first, I kept making two bedrooms...one with the fabric scheme and another with the wallpaper scheme. I never liked either...and separating the two never felt right. I kept coming back to the two different flowering patterns. One day, I was in my bedroom and kept looking at them together. It was very busy but they just felt right together. I knew it was a risk but both of them together made me smile so much. In the end, I closed my eyes and went for it! The two patterns are on a different scale so they don’t overwhelm the eye. I brought in soft pink velvet and painted the room a milk chocolate brown that tied it all together.”
Talk to us about the palette. You use classic colors but it still feels modern and fresh. Where did you start?
"I started with two mismatched fabrics but they had a similar color palate. The paint was the final piece that tied everything together.”
What are the key layering pieces here? How did you choose?
"There is so much pattern going on I knew I did not need much furniture, but the pieces I did choose had to be large-scale, dynamic and a mix of old and new. The beautiful, overscale carved chaise came from Found in Houston. (I had to beg owner Ruth Davis for it—I think she was saving it for herself). I love the large-scale Amanda Talley (New Orleans artist) painting over the fireplace. (I had one of her first gallery shows in my house, which is when I bought this piece. The blue in the painting is dynamic and ties the two sides of the room together. I also love the Julie Soefer chandelier photograph above the hand-me-down armoire. The chandelier in the photograph really appears to be hanging in the room! Julie took this photo in a beautiful church on the Amalfi Coast...and I love how the ornate church interior mirrors the antique chaise.”
There’s such clever practicality here with the bookshelves and mounted TV. They seem to disappear into the walls. What’s your secret?
"I just embrace TVs and technology. I love to watch movies on a big screen in bed and so we went with it. There are new televisions every day and one I love now is a Samsung Frame TV that looks like art on the wall. I may have to get one next.”
There is a mix of styles here. How do you balance it all so well?
"I am most comfortable in a room with a mix of traditional, glam, modern, and color. I come to this on a personal level because my homes have been furnished over a long period of time and I just keep collecting and layering and buying what I love. I feel like if you love it, it will all layer well together.”
Any traditional bedroom design rules you like to follow or break?
Mix It Up
"Balance soft pieces with hard pieces. Use lots and lots of textures like shiny mirrors and matte finishes.”
Splurge on Bedding
"It’s where you spend so much time. I think traditional bedrooms should have luxurious traditional bedding.”
Can you give us three to four tips when trying to achieve this look?
Start At One
"It could be a bookshelf object, a piece of fabric, or the bedding. But begin with something you really, really love and want to look at every day. This object or fabric or bedding will probably have a color in it you love and use that color as the springboard for the whole-room design.”
Cherish Your Walls
"Put your favorite piece of art in your bedroom don’t relegate it to a room you never go into. Remember, you spend the most time in your bedroom, so put that treasured piece of art there.”
"Lighting is so important! Make sure everything is on a dimmer. Set lamps on both sides of the bed. Having lighting at different levels in a room is so important. And I think it's important to have two recessed cans with a dimmer over each pillow area.”
"Make your bed the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house. I love an upholstered headboard and luxurious bedding. Spend your money on those items.”
Tell us about the Matouk linens you chose...
"I wanted pink and I wanted scallops and Matouk's Butterfield style has both! It was just perfect and really it took no time at all to decide. I had my eye on this pattern for a long time and I was lucky it came in the perfect shade of pink to match my headboard fabric and wallpaper. It's my favorite and it wears so well.”
Our Own Edit Note
When in the Houston area, be sure to visit Longoria Collection, an expansive store with an amazing selection of luxury home goods and linens, including Matouk. Longoria is the place to go when designing your home.
"I wanted pink and I wanted scallops and Matouk's Butterfield style has both! ...and it wears so well."